Shawn sighs and looks out over the big yard behind the old woman’s house, and I’m content to watch him think. It’s like watching the northern lights, a breathtaking phenomenon that not many people get to see. Guys like my brothers can simply space out, think about nothing, but not Shawn or even Adam. It’s a songwriter thing, a constant introspection, and it’s why the band’s songs resonate with so many people. It’s why they’ve always resonated with me. And now, watching Shawn climb inside himself, I wonder if I’m witnessing the lyrics of our next hit being drafted, if this is what that looks like.
“I used to wish they’d stay apart,” he says. “Now, I wish they’d just get back together.”
“I think they need each other.” Shawn glances over at me, like he just realized he’s talking to another person instead of himself, and then he lets out a breath and stares back over the yard again. “I don’t think they needed each other before, but . . . I don’t know. It’s like none of us ever realized he was half a person until she came around. Not even him.”
“Maybe that’s true of everyone,” I say, barely noticing the numbness in my toes anymore, because I’m too lost in this moment. It would take me ten seconds to get my socks and boots, but those are ten seconds with Shawn I’m not willing to lose.
He’s quiet for a long time. A long time. And then he looks over at me, his green eyes making my heart beat faster, just like they always do. “Do you believe that?”
I shrug a shoulder. “I don’t know. Maybe.”
“Are you half a person?”
In the depths of his eyes, I feel like I might find my answer . . .
“Are you?” I ask, stopping myself from searching.
“How would I know?”
“I guess you wouldn’t.”
The silence doesn’t have answers, and neither do the ribbons that rise out of the horizon. Blues, pinks, purples. Shawn and I sit out there, content to watch them dance.
“So you’ve never been in love before?” I ask the air between us. I don’t know why I need to know, but sitting up here on my roof, with the sun setting just for us, I do.
“No.” His answer comes quickly. He doesn’t even glance at me.
“Not even once?”
When he finally looks over at me, I almost regret asking. “Have you?”
I look away, not giving myself time to think about it. “No.”
“No boyfriends? You had to have had boyfriends . . . ”
“Of course I’ve had boyfriends,” I scoff. Still sitting guru-style, I try to tuck my feet in the creases of my knees to warm them—and fail miserably. “I just never loved any of them,” I say as I try to tuck a foot into the opposite leg of my jeans. “Do you want me to tell you about each one? Because I can tell y—”
“No,” Shawn interrupts, scooting over and tugging at the crisscross of my legs until I’m nearly toppling backward. My feet get pulled into his lap, and I grip his shoulders for balance as he wraps warm fingers around my toes. We’re suddenly inches apart, and when he turns his face to look at me, there’s nowhere for me to run, nowhere for me to hide. “Trust me,” he says, “I really don’t want to know.”
THE NIGHT OF the roof, with my feet in Shawn’s lap, we talked about everything and nothing. Or, more accurately, he talked . . . and I just kind of squeaked back a reply once in a while.
Long after it got dark, long after he left, I snuggled tight under a mountain of heavy blankets and smiled into the cold breeze that blew in through my open window. The night air smelled like him, or maybe he smelled like the night air, but either way, I let it in. I closed my eyes, and with the kiss of the wind on my cheeks . . . my nose . . . my lips . . . I could almost imagine he never left.
Even now, I can still feel the way he held my legs in his lap, and that memory has been both inviting and haunting over the days leading up to tonight, our first performance at Mayhem. He and I haven’t been alone since the roof. Instead, we’ve seen each other only during group practices, and that has made the day of the sunset feel like a dream, a fluke. Shawn goes back to being Shawn, and I go back to being Kit—a punk rocker who doesn’t do embarrassing things like blush and giggle and act like a total girl. I’m a guitarist, one of the guys, and I regret asking Dee to make me a dress for tonight’s performance.
In the only private room of the band’s double-decker tour bus, I finish putting it on—a flattering black miniature thing, adorned with blue safety pins that barely hold the slinky garment together. Dee made it from one of the dresses she already had in her closet, and even though she warned me it had been short even on her, my eyes go wide when I realize how super short it is on me. I take a deep breath and ignore how much pale skin is showing, using a compact mirror to cake on my lengthening mascara. I apply an extra layer of super-strength deodorant and brush my hair until it flows like water over the bristles.
“Are you nervous?” Shawn asks from the other side of the closed door.
Nervous about the crowd? No. Nervous about opening that door? I stare down at my legs again.
“Yeah, a little.”
“You rocked soundcheck this morning,” he assures me. “Just bring that same confidence tonight and you’ll be fine.”
I sit on the edge of the black satin bed and tighten the strings of my combat boots. If Dee knew I was wearing this dress with these boots . . . well, it might reignite some of that fire missing from her eyes. “You can go in without me. I’ll be done in a minute.”